Ace hotel developer Jon Blanchard turns his attention to the beach

Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica

Jon Blanchard
Last opening: CitizenM hotel in the city center.
Developer: BLVD Hospitality, the hospitality arm of BLVD Cos., Has developed more than 1.2 million square feet in Los Angeles County.

Jon Blanchard founded BLVD Cos in 2009. based in Century City and saw opportunities in historic buildings. Perhaps his best-known project is the Ace Hotel in the city center.
Most recently he opened the CitizenM Hotel, also in the city center. Outside of hotels, Chicas Tacos also falls under the BLVD Cos. Banner, and the restaurant has grown rapidly, opening three locations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why start BLVD?
I’ve always had a passion and love for hotels and historic buildings. I really saw an opportunity in Los Angeles to get involved, especially in downtown Los Angeles where there are lots of really wonderful historic buildings. There really was an open canvas of possibilities.

Despite the pandemic, BLVD Hospitality made some big purchases. What makes you still interested in hotels?
I believe that people like to enjoy other spaces outside of their home. They like to be on the go, be it driving or flying, and experience hotels. We think this won’t go away, whether it’s a pandemic or not. And we saw that. We’ve seen hotels on beaches perform well during the pandemic. … More urban areas like your Downtown LA and your Manhattan and places like this didn’t.
We bought the Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica in the early days and at the height of Covid-19. I lived in Santa Monica and kept an eye on this building for 11 years. … we took the opportunity and acquired it in 2020 and it turned out to be a really big success … and we have a great restoration plan and we are planning to renovate it.

Are there certain areas in LA that you or you are not interested in moving projects forward?
What I hear a lot is that investors aren’t that keen on investing in California right now. Much of this has to do with homelessness, taxes, and maybe dealing with Covid-19. We have to listen to this because we are developers and we have partners in the things we do. It’s a concern right now.
I wouldn’t say there is an area that we don’t focus on. We are a firm believer in California, we were born and raised here, and we are a firm believer in Los Angeles, and we will continue to build and develop great things in Los Angeles.
Where am i concerned? I’m worried about downtown Los Angeles. I worry about the look of the streets and the homeless and the fact that people don’t want to go there because of these issues. It was a problem before the pandemic and it is a problem now.

The CitizenM Hotel in the city center is one of your newer projects. Can you tell me?
That only opened a few weeks ago. It’s a project we’re very, very excited and proud of. It is the first modular high-rise construction ever approved in the city of Los Angeles. It really took me back to the days of playing the ace, which was a big deal for Broadway and a big deal for downtown. That kind of reminded me because it’s another monumental moment for the city to be involved in the first modular high-rise construction.

Do you want to buy more hotels?
We are very active. We look at things all the time. We have just closed an escrow account on a lot next to Disneyland that we are going to build a hotel on and are always looking for it. We believe that California and Los Angeles will be great again, and we hold on to that. I have to say that it is difficult to find good offers at the moment, but we are active wherever there are.

How do you see other business areas under the umbrella of the BLVD such as Chicas Tacos?
Business has done well. … We are preparing to launch another dozen stores over the next few years and we are also very excited to start our retail grocery store … early next year.

What’s next for BLVD?

We’re excited to renovate the Georgian and build our Anaheim hotel next to Disneyland. We’re excited to keep investing and growing and building even more great boutique hotels and that is exactly our focus. We’re looking for more options on the west coast.
We set up a (complementary) fund. We will also make a lot more investments and co-investments in the hotel world.
– Hannah Madans

For reprint and license inquiries for this item, CLICK HERE.

Comments are closed.